Going gaga over Google+

It’s hard not to feel at least a bit excit­ed about Google+ right now. Most of us have com­plained at least once, at times stren­u­ous­ly, about the foibles and fail­ings of Face­book. And as has been observed far and wide already, if any­one is going to build a bet­ter social net­work­ing mouse­trap, it is going to be the future over­lords of all the Earth, Google.

I did not have my ear to the ground on this one, so if there was advance buzz about the immi­nent release of Google+ before it burst into everyone’s news feeds and Twit­ter time­lines late last month, I clear­ly missed it. But it didn’t take me long to catch on and catch up, and the ear­ly reviews were glow­ing, some­times even rav­ing. This was with­out a doubt going to be so much more awe­some than any­thing Face­book had to offer, or at least that seemed to be the con­sen­sus of the eight peo­ple or so who had actu­al­ly man­aged to get signed in and look around.

But then, what was real­ly at stake here? The inim­itable Mer­lin Mann put his fin­ger on it quite nice­ly in one of his trade­mark toots:

With gor­geous design and care­ful atten­tion to users’ con­cerns, Google+ has rein­vent­ed how we fuck around with but­tons on a fuck­ing web­site.
@hotdogsladies
Mer­lin Mann

Yes, Face­book has been frus­trat­ing, annoy­ing, infu­ri­at­ing with their con­stant tweak­ing and fid­dling with every detail of the user expe­ri­ence. Theirs is an exces­sive­ly busy inter­face, with an infin­i­ty of dis­tract­ing bells and whis­tles. Spam and hack­ing is ram­pant, and chat nev­er real­ly works. And of course it is debil­i­tat­ing­ly addic­tive to many, myself includ­ed, although that is part­ly (read: large­ly) just the nature of the game.

But it still seems a bit daft to ditch out of a par­ty where all your friends are, and where you have gen­er­al­ly been hav­ing a good time, just to move to a par­ty up the block where scarce­ly any­one else you know has been invit­ed yet. I don’t care what brand of gin they’re serv­ing at the new par­ty: if there is no one there to talk to, I might as well be drink­ing alone.

Since I start­ed draft­ing this post, I have been able to get in the Google+ door myself, and more of my peeps are arriv­ing dai­ly. It is a clean, well-tought-out inter­face that Google has put togeth­er. No real sur­prise: that is what they do. I real­ly like the Cir­cles con­cept and its func­tion­al­i­ty. I think this is a net­work mod­el with poten­tial. But it has a lot of grow­ing up to do yet before it can try to rule the social net­work­ing world.

1 Comment

  1. For me, at least, the fail­ings of Google+ come down to one line of your arti­cle: ‘But it still seems a bit daft to ditch out of a par­ty where all your friends are.’ Google+ has every bit of func­tion­al­i­ty that I care about in Face­book — basi­cal­ly, pic­tures and sta­tus updates — plus, it has a sim­ple mech­a­nism for serv­ing con­tent to one group and not anoth­er, while allow­ing for crossover between groups, some­thing Face­book has nev­er been able to pull off well — and cer­tain­ly nev­er as trans­par­ent­ly as Google+. What it doesn’t have is adop­tion — my moth­er, my aunts and uncles, etc — they are already on Face­book, and for some of them it was a strug­gle even to get there. For those that don’t even have gmail accounts yet, it will be hard to get to Google+, and I think, for that rea­son alone, Face­book will have a momen­tum that is hard to beat.

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